Second-year coach Justin Pressley’s no-huddle offense certainly sparked some enthusiasm around Church Hill, but it was tough sledding midseason — when the Falcons were ravaged by injuries.
Now that Pressley has had a full offseason with the kids and with several key starters returning, Volunteer is on the uptick — though how much forward progress remains to be seen.
With utilityman and senior leader Peyton Derrick as the main threat on offense — joined by senior quarterback Eli Dorton and junior running back Cameron Johnson — the Falcons could be one of the big wild cards in Region 1-5A.
The offense had trouble moving the football at times last year, but the defense was the biggest problem after Dawson Dykes went out for the season with a neck injury. Dykes was the leading tackler in 2017 as well as a leader on defense. After he went down, the Falcons struggled on that side of the ball and seemed lost at times with all the youth that was on the field.
“We’re excited about this year. We’re pushing 70 kids out here right now and I hope this can get the community excited, too,” Pressley said. “The numbers are better than they ever have been. The offense is coming more naturally to the kids and I’m not having to explain as much. It’s more of me correcting small errors.”
All of Volunteer’s victories last year came on the road or at a neutral site, leaving fans without a home win for a second consecutive year. The Falcons have not won at home since Sept. 16, 2016, against Grainger.
They open the season at CAK before beginning a three-game homestand, starting with Sullivan Central.
On Sept. 27, Volunteer meets Hawkins County rival Cherokee in Rogersville looking to snap an 11-game losing streak in the series.
Aug. 23 at CAK
Aug. 30 Sullivan Central
Sept. 6 David Crockett
Sept. 13 Sullivan East
Sept. 20 at Cherokee
Oct. 4 Tennessee High
Oct. 11 at Daniel Boone
Oct. 18 Morristown East
Oct. 25 at Unicoi County
Nov. 1 at Cocke County